Monthly Archives: May 2012

Boker tov adon Fidelman (Restoration) by Yossi Madmoni (2011)

A sentimental tale of family tradition v. progress, where the father does not feel his son will be able to fill his shoes in the antiques workshop business. When his partner dies, Mr Fidelman needs a loan to keep the store going.

His son has an expecting wife. All seems to be on the right track to an inevitable finale, when Fidelman will have to give up his passion due to financial crisis.

An outsider appears to promise a change in their lives. Temporarily replaces the prodigal son to Fidelman, helping with restoration of an expensive grand piano, which if successful will enable Fidelman to remain on the surface for much longer. The new boy also falls for the son’s daughter and for a large portion of the movie fully replaces the true blood relations between father and son, also taking his place in metaphorical married bed.

Sounds too easy? Well, because it is. And it is not possible to replace someone’s place in the family or business, or marriage.

A beautifully told story with amazing play with light, music and closeups of everyday life in contemporary TelAviv.

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Beauty (Skoonheid) by Oliver Hermanus (2011)

South African festival traveller by second time director Oliver Hermanus with ambiguously metrosexual Charlie Keegan.

Some 60-year old man (intense Deon Lotz as François) marries off his first of two daughters. His wife is cheating on him, he is cheating on her – one might think: nothing out of the ordinary, nothing we haven’t seen in the cinema before. If only chez Sam Mendes in “American Beauty”. (Unsure as to how consciously the title relates to that drama).

Christian (Charlie Keegan) is an old pal’s son. Together with his family he lives in the far Cape Town – a mere 15 hour drive from Bloemfontein. And it is for Christian that François will fall. A closeted gay for countless years, probably the worst thing is, his younger daughter Anika also fancies Christian and tends to spend a lot of time with him. Jealousy combined with suppressed obsessions and desires – Freud would probably have something to say here.

The plot is quite scary mainly because François does not show his emotions or plans on his face. He is as calculated as a serious killer. He is also unpredictable and unstoppable. What sets of as almost innocent act of observing Christian during the wedding, finishes in one dark place where few would expect to find François. Not only is he a stalker, he is also the predator hunting the victim down.

This is a strong voice in one sided discussion on homophobia, with its old rule – those that are least tolerant, are the ones having lots to hide.

The main success of the film is the casting – Charlie Keegan is the dangerous combination attracting both sexes who never openly admits to being on either side. Hence the tragic jealously of the father towards his daughter. They both think Christian could be theirs. Christian is the embodiment of 21st century title beauty – the perfect Adonis anyone will fall for.

Beauty” is a shocking picture unveiling how those perceived to be perfectly ‘normal’ citizens, live double lives and are still able to keep the face on the surface, to remain ‘normal’ – in accordance with the main stream, when in fact they are the exact opposite to what they seem.

Powerful cinema with numerous experiments on the level of story telling, soundtrack and space left to the audience for interpretation. 

Also check out this amazing review:

http://bit.ly/L8Idha

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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2011)

Winner of the Grand Prix of the Jury at Cannes 2011.

The film begins at dusk and finishes in the early hours of the morning. It seems to be presented in a real time, adding the power of the length of the night when 3 cars filled with policemen, prosecutor, doctor, gendarmes and two suspects drive around the fields of nothingness in search of a buried corpse.

The two suspects ride in two separate vehicles.

An interesting technical trick is applied to the lighting effects – the cars seem to be equipped with extra powerful lighting which would blind the oncoming cars had there been any in real time. In cinematic terms – they serve as the only source of lighting for wide and long shots and are an excuse for broad lighting in close-ups.

Given the suspects’ memory is not perfect, one was drunk, the other asleep when they were burying the victim, the quest takes for ages (the whole night actually). That being an excuse for conversations of diverse level of topics more and less serious.

It is not easy to establish who the main character is. Oddly it does not seem to be a disturbance. After a while, the audience slowly realises that there is one character present in each scene throughout the film. And he is the one helping other characters to deal with their issues of various sorts, he is the one sane voice amongst the chaotic babble spanning from gossip on the prosecutor’s health to quoting poets on the lightness of human life. He is the one who does not judge and is able to manage his opinions not to show on his face. Something that neither the audience nor the central suspect are capable of doing. The suspect is the audience observing the circus of characters who have power over him.

Amazing cinematic game with powerful poetics and most importantly – a very universal message.

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Silver Tongues by Simon Arthur (2011)

Simon – writer/director for this feature debut plays with the audience from the very start.

The last joke is on us. Until the last scene.

It is a very consciously built story in contra to the American Indie tales of 20-somethings and their emotional issues.

The two main protagonists play with other personae in the drama, but they also play with the audience. In the end, it is hard to tell what is real and what is acted.

Lee Tergesen is that actor of the supporting roles for the last twenty years in American TV. And here he takes the lead. Hypnotising the partners in the story as well as the audience.

A very interesting and powerful experiment in contemporary cinema. Made with skill and consciousness of the form limitations but also the power a film director has in his hands when he decides to present his project to the cinema audience. Simon Arthur is the one to watch out for.

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Sawdust City by David Nordstrom (2011)

One of the American Indie films when the director is at the same time a writer and the leading man.

The film tells a story of two brothers who in frosty and snowy Wisconsin take up on a challenge to find their drunkard father.

One of the brothers wears a sailor’s uniform and it is Thanksgiving. The other married the ex-girlfriend of the soldier. They both go awol on the dinner made by her and spend the night walking into all bars and gin-joints in the whole town.

The conversations they lead, the people they meet allow the audience to learn a lot about their background, history, past, a bit about their present. Not much into their future as that remains blurry for both.

Despite all appearances it is a road movie, although walked. Recommend!

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